McLeod County Officials Urge Propane Use Awareness 06 Feb 14

With the propane shortages impacting several areas across the Midwest and the State of Minnesota, McLeod County Emergency Management would like to encourage citizens that use propane as a heating source to be aware of their propane use. With supplies at 50% of the average amount of propane on hand this year and the high cost of the propane, McLeod County Emergency Management is pre-planning in conjunction with local public health, hospitals, energy assistance providers, local propane suppliers, and emergency responders.

Director Kevin Mathews says even though the propane suppliers are not currently having issues supplying gas to their customers, propane consumers need to start to plan what they would do if they run out of propane and have to leave their homes.  Here are some bullet points to consider:

  • Conserve energy as much as possible. Turn down thermostats.
  • Reach out to family and friends for assistance.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and the young.
  • Call 9-1-1 only in a crisis.
  • Make sure home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working.
  • If you have questions about fire protection devices, contact your local fire department.
  • Plug heaters directly into the wall instead of using an extension cord if the heater draws more than 400 watts. Extension cords can over heat and cause fire hazards. Check the cord and outlet occasionally for overheating; if it feels hot, turn it off and unplug it.
  • Place heaters at least three feet away from people, pets and anything combustible, including paper, drapery, bedding, and clothing.
  • Place heaters on a level, hard, and non-flammable surface. Not on rugs or carpets.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat a house.
  • Make sure all cords on electric heaters are in good shape and check periodically for any frays or breaks in the insulation surrounding the wires.
  • Any heating appliance with an open flame needs to be vented to the outside to eliminate the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It is a gas that can build up to dangerous concentrations indoors when fuel-burning devices are not properly vented, operated, or maintained.
    • Know the symptoms of CO poisoning:
      • Headache
      • Nausea
      • Weakness
      • Dizziness



Local Resources for Heating Assistance:

  • McLeod County Social Services 320-864-3144 or 320-484-4330
  • Heartland Community Action Agency 320-587-5244; 320-235-0850 Willmar Office
  • Common Cup 320-587-2213
  • Salvation Army Heat Share Program 1-800-842-7279
  • Your Church
  • Your Utility Company

Now is not the time to panic about this shortage … there are agencies and people already preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. This could turn out to be a longer duration incident and may last until the weather warms up across the nation and supplies get back to their normal levels. There is a lot of coordination between local responders and vendors, as well as state agencies. The public should know that now is a great time to plan and prepare your homes and families. A little preparation on their part will go a long ways and make our communities more resilient.